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UConn women’s basketball alum Stefanie Dolson, U.S. Olympic women’s 3x3 basketball team earn top seed for semifinal round

Hartford Courant
Hartford Courant
 2021-07-26

In the inaugural edition of 3x3 basketball at the Olympics, the U.S. women’s team is two wins away from making history.

With the bulk of preliminary play over, Team USA — featuring former UConn women’s basketball standout and current Chicago Sky forward Stefanie Dolson, the Dallas Wings’ Allisha Gray, and the Las Vegas Aces’ Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young — has positioned itself nicely for a strong shot at Olympic gold.

At 6-0, the only undefeated team remaining in the field of eight, Team USA has secured the top seed in the semifinal round. All other teams have lost at least twice. The U.S. squad ensured its spot in the semifinals with a 21-19 win over China on Monday. It was a one-possession game the whole way before Plum hit the game-winning 2-point shot with 34 seconds remaining.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Dolson, who had three points and six rebounds, told USA Basketball . “They were physical, probably the most physical team we played, but we were able to just keep playing our game, keep battling and made big shots. Like Kelsey made that big shot at the end.”

The U.S. has one game in preliminary play left on Tuesday 12:30 a.m. EDT vs. Japan. Regardless of that game’s result, the U.S. will play its semifinal game at 4 a.m. EDT Wednesday against the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 semifinal play-in game. China, Japan and the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) are tied at 4-2 for second place and the second bye into the semifinals.

A win in the semifinals would propel the U.S. to the gold medal match Wednesday at 8:55 a.m. EDT. A loss would still offer a chance to take the podium should they win the bronze medal game Wednesday at 7:45 a.m. ET.

Team USA is No. 1 in scoring (19.7 points per game) and boasts the best scoring defense (13.0 points allowed per game). Plum paces the team with 7.0 ppg, followed by Gray (5.5), Dolson (5.3) and Young (1.8) The 3x3 games run 10 minutes or until an opponent reaches 21 points, with baskets counting as either one or two points. Gray and Dolson are holding things down on the glass with 31 and 30 rebounds, respectively, through six games.

While the U.S. team features four WNBA players, including some who were part of the national team pool, its undefeated record is still impressive considering the team has not played together for long, especially relative to their competition. Former UConn great Katie Lou Samuelson replaced UConn teammate Napheesa Collier on the team in March, then Samuelson tested positive for COVID-19 before leaving for Tokyo, leading to Young’s appointment onto the team last week.

“I think we feel good,” Dolson said. “Every game we’ve learned something about our team. We’re building more chemistry with Jackie, so, we’re still going up. We’re still getting better, which is dangerous for other teams.”

USA 3x3 schedule

Preliminary round: Tuesday 12:30 a.m. EDT vs. Japan. You can stream the game here .

Semifinals: Wednesday 4 a.m. EDT vs. TBD. Available on USA Network or streaming here .

Medal round: Wednesday 7:45 a.m. EDT vs. TBD (bronze medal game) or 8:55 a.m. EDT vs. TBD (gold medal game). Available on USA Network or streaming here .

Alexa Philippou can be reached at aphilippou@courant.com .

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